Rose Bowl deal clears way for College Football Playoff to expand by 12 teams in 2024, 2025

Sources confirmed to CBS Sports that the Rose Bowl has signed a deal with the College Football Playoff, paving the way for the event to expand to 12 teams starting in 2024. The CFP has given the Rose Bowl until this weekend — at the latest — to agree to terms the Rose Bowl has so far been unwilling to accept.

With the Rose Bowl underway, expect to soon be officially announcing a 12-team playoff in 2024 and 2025. The new format was initially agreed upon by the CFP Management Committee in September.

While the terms of the deal signed by the Rose Bowl are unknown, the Rose Bowl has called for the game to be played at the traditional 5 p.m. ET time slot on Jan. 8. 1 though playoff expansion could affect the bowl schedule. The slot is considered one of the most valuable in sports television. The deal Rose Bowl signed could create more flexibility in the scheduling process.

In the expanded playoffs, the game itself is more important than the bowl that hosts the game. The Rose Bowl has refused to acquiesce to a more uniform scheduling policy, delaying the expansion until 2026 after the end of the CFP’s current contract with ESPN. That would cost interested parties about $450 million in additional revenue, and it could keep the Rose Bowl out of the selection process once a new contract is signed.

The Rose Bowl proposed hosting the CFP quarterfinals in 2024 and 2025 — possibly without their traditional Big Ten and Pac-12 partners — in exchange, as part of the CFP’s new media rights contract beginning in 2026, retaining Its time period, a source close to the situation told CBS Sports. That offer was rejected.

When asked what leverage the Rose Bowl had in the process, one person involved in the CFP process simply replied, “They didn’t.” Early expansion was out of the question after a rushed conference championship game.

The 12-year contract between CFP and ESPN will expire after the 2025 season and is currently in its ninth year. With the exception of the Rose Bowl, all necessary parties have agreed to expand to 12 teams for the 2024 and 2025 seasons. Ten FBS conferences, Notre Dame and the New Year’s Six Bowl involved agree on campus field games, game dates and revenue distribution for early expansion. However, agreements for early expansion require unanimous consent.

Over the years, until now, every BCS/CFP scheduling decision has allowed the Rose Bowl to broadcast its games at 5 p.m., its preferred time slot, on or around New Year’s Day. Traditionally, the games are scheduled after the tournament of the roses or parade. The timing is perfect, and the sun always sets to the west of the San Gabriel Mountains during games, creating one of the most iconic scenes in American sports.

As the CFP prepares to expand, its handlers have become less forgiving about meeting Rose Bowl’s demands. That 5 p.m. slot will be so valuable in the future — for the first time — that it feels like the game is more important than the bowl location.

“It’s the equivalent of Super Bowl Sunday,” said an industry source in the 5 p.m. slot. “New Year’s Day is kind of like Sunday, even though it’s not Sunday. Everyone’s hungover on New Year’s Eve. They sit down and it’s 5:00. Everyone gets what they need to do. It’s the best window.”

The main reason for the early expansion is to give teams more playoff opportunities and get an extra $450 million a year from rights holder ESPN so it can air additional CFP games in 2024 and 2025 . Need to sign the 2026 new media copyright contract beyond.

It’s unclear what leverage the Rose Bowl thinks it has in the negotiations. That broadcast window is valuable, and CFP stakeholders are tired of putting the Rose Bowl in an arrangement that dates back nearly a quarter-century.

The Rose Bowl relinquished its exclusivity beginning in 1998, the first year of the BCS. At the time, it agreed to end a streak of Big Ten and Pac-12 championship games held since 1947. In the BCS agreement, the Rose Bowl rotates two spots every four years to host BCS championship games. This first happened after the 2001 season, when Miami beat Nebraska for its final national title. Both schools at the time mentioned they should have felt like outsiders after 55 straight years of Big Ten matchups. Pac-8/10 matchup.

When the CFP started in 2014, it was believed the Rose Bowl would never host a national championship game. Los Angeles is building the new SoFi stadium, and the city of Pasadena has no way to outbid the city of LA SoFi to host the 2023 CFP National Championship. Meanwhile, the Rose Bowl has hosted the CFP semifinals in 2015, 2018 and 2021 since 2014.

“The luster of that game was gone [if the Rose doesn’t agree]said a bowl executive outside the CFP system. Maybe the Rose Bowl just needs to back down and accept it. It’s just about who blinks first.”

On Wednesday night, the Rose Bowl flickered.

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